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Cat Behavioral Problems

Hi everyone. I'm looking for some advice. This is some background info.

Currently we have two cats, one female, one male. We've had both for three years, adopted from the shelter. We adopted them about four months apart. Our male cat, Winston, was pretty submissive to our female Pumpkin, when we first got him, because she's older and was here before him.

After some months, he started to "attack" her. I put that in quotations because I believe that he doesn't mean to hurt her, and that he's just trying to play, but doesn't know how to properly (wasn't socialized as a kitten). Pumpkin would yowl really load and she never really defended herself, so we'd always have to break it up. This has continued occasionally over the past three years, and neither has ever gotten hurt.

Also during the three years, Winston has had some litter box issues, mainly just not covering his urine and feces in the litter box, occasionally pooping outside because it wasn't clean enough.

Now it wasn't until this summer that the problems started. Winston started to not poop in the litter box, just right near it, despite us keeping it clean. Recently, he started peeing outside the litter box in a corner on our stair's landing. He's done it twice now. He sprayed in that same spot on the wall earlier (he's neutered), and he's NEVER done that before. As far as I know, there were no new/stray cats around our house.

The only thing I could think of that's causing him to do this is stress. Earlier this year, we started letting our cats stay in the backyard, as they had been exclusively indoor cats, and Winston especially enjoyed it. Than we discovered that both the cats and our dog had fleas, so we kept them indoors. Winston didn't take this well. He'd yowl at the backdoor, and whenever anyone went outside he'd get in the window and yell. After a couple weeks, he calmed down, but I think that he's extremely frustrated and stressed from this, and it's causing him to misbehave. Besides not being allowed outdoors, there has been no sudden changes or stress in our family.

We still haven't gotten rid of the fleas yet, as we're not using any chemicals, and the weather has been horrible here. We're hoping of getting rid of them soon.

So I think that his issues might be a combination of not being allowed outside, the fleas, and the unusually hot and humid weather we've been experiencing in San Diego this summer. We're doing some stuff to correct his inappropriate elimination, and we're hoping that once the weather cools down, and the fleas are gone, he'll be acting normal.

Otherwise, we're thinking that we might have to give him to the shelter (they're a really good shelter, and no-kill, so there's nothing to worry about there). But I REALLY don't want to give up on him, because it's so unfair to Winston, but his behavior is very frustrating. He's attacked Pumpkin more, out of frustration we think, and she actually started growling at him, so we think perhaps he'd do better in a house where he's the only animal.

So what I'd like is any advice you can give me. We have any appointment for him at the holistic vet where our dog goes, to see what she can say about him, and as a last resort, we might go to a cat behaviorist.

As bad as it sounds, and please don't hate me for saying this, it'd be a relief if he went to a new family. But that'd only be an extreme, last resort.

Misplaced defecation is often a symptom of health issues. My cat started peeing in my office as a way to get my attention; turned out he had diabetes and liver dysfunction. He was elderly, so in the end we gave him his peace, but before you give your cat away, do have a full physical done. The agression etc may be because he isn't well. You say you've had him for 3 years, but if he is over 7 years old it's high time he had a full health check, and even if he's younger I'd have bloodwork etc done to rule out physical problems. At the very least, fleas can spread illnesses.

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I was thinking he might have an urinary tract infection, but he doesn't seem to have trouble peeing, but I'm not a vet, so that's why we have that appointment for him. And he's only three years old.

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Just my 2 cents but after reading what you've written, 95% of your cat's problem are due to you -- did you spend any time with your cats in getting them adjusted to each other? You stated that your cat didn't use his box when it wasn't clean, well duh -- would you? How many litterboxes do you have as I"m going to take a guess you have one when you should have 3 -- a box for each cat in the house plus 1 (can't remember where I read that but when I had a cat who hated my other 3 cats, he finally started to consistently use his box when I had the correct number of boxes and found a litter that he liked -- Tidy Cat (and I had tried just about all of the name brands by that point). You also gave your cats and dog fleas by letting them outside and are not currently doing anything about that. They can get very sick (as yabbitgirl also mentioned -- like tapeworms and allergies to flea bites for starters) PLUS while getting the fleas off of your animals won't be very difficult, they are now in your house which will require you to stay on top of heavy duty cleaning or all of your lives (human and non-human) will be miserable for a very very long time. For starters, check out the website 'onlynaturalpet.com' as they have a great non-chemical flea remedy that I used last summer in my apartment when I had 6 stray cats living with me (plus my 4). You can use the stuff on your animals and your floor and it really works BUT you have to stay on top of the cleaning and consistently use it as it's not going to work overnight like the poisons do but nobody will get sick. Your vacuum cleaner should be your best friend and remember to throw out the bag after every vacuum (outside). You should also buy this fantastic book called 'Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.' It's my pet bible and teaches you how to properly care for your companions. If your vet gives Winston a clean bill of health and having his own litterbox doesn't help, he might just not like other cats and you can try some of the suggestions in Dr. Pitcairn's book. Kali Phos worked wonders on my cat that my vet wanted to put on valium since he attacked the other cats in my house but, I didn't think keeping him drugged up would enhance the quality of his life. It's just a simple homepathic remedy that took a few weeks to work its magic and he became very chill around all of the other cats instead of picking fights with everyone. He just kept to himself or snuggled with me, never had any problems after that. All animals are different so something else might work on Winston but the number one thing to remember is to NEVER give up on your animals -- you are all they have and animal shelters are FULL of discarded and abandoned pets whose former 'owners' thought they would be better off elsewhere. Please don't do that to your cat, or any animal, ever. I think this might be a great bonding experience for all of you but it will take some time but they are worth it -- dontcha think?? ;-)

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Thanks for your input, but I'm not nearly as irresponsible as you think I am. When we first got Winston, we did the appropiate cat-to-cat introduction, and of course we spent time with them. We've always had two litter boxes, because I know about that rule, and we just got a third. We are doing something about the fleas, it's just taking longer because we're doing things without chemicals.  We're going to have Fleabusters come in. And when we let them outside, we were doing natural flea repellant on them, but it didn't work, obviously. Fleas are becoming very resistant. And our dog has to go outside. We're not going to abandon Winston, I just said that as an extreme last resort. It's just my dad is very old-fashioned when it comes to animals, and if this continues, he would get rid of Winston, but he's in the minority in the house. My mom and I aren't going to give up on him.

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Keep me posted, Razzmatazz! I hope the vet can pinpoint the problem for you. I know what it's like to have your furry unhappy and unwell and not know what to do to make it better for him! Pet Winston for me.

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It sounds like everything started when you introduced him to your first cat.Maybe he feels like he is not as important.Did you give him the same amount of attention as your first cat?

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@yabbitgirl: I will. Because of the weekend, we haven't heard back from the vet, but hopefully he'll have an appointment soon.

@Cherie: We did, and normally it's the resident cat who feels neglected. But, I think that possibly his problems started when we brought in our dog. We adopted her last June, and we'd had the cats for two years by then. We did all the appropiate stuff, and Pumpkin was the one hissing and growling, whereas Winston just kept his distance and pretty much ignored her.

But perhaps he felt a lot more stress than he let on, because he seemed to lose a little weight after she came in. He is eating and drinking normally, if anyone thinks he isn't. And I don't think he's urinated in that spot since I first posted either. We put a brand new, clean litter box by that spot, and put enzyme cleaners and stuff on where he peed, to get rid of the smell, and we haven't smelled or seen any pee there. It seems like he's using the litter boxes again, but I haven't actually seen him use them, so now I'm a bit concerned about if he's even going to the bathroom, as that's a serious indicator of a problem. But physically he's acting normal. Not lethargic, he plays, runs and jumps, he's eating and drinking, etc.

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Update for anyone who cares: Winston seems to not be having anymore litter box issues. It seems getting a third litter box may have solved the problem. And we had Fleabusters treat our house today (they're non-chemical) and all the fleas should be dead in 6 weeks, and they gurantee it for a year. Thanks for the advice everyone.

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I'm glad Winston is getting back to his old self!! Some cats just need a box of their own, particularly males. Excellent result!!

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